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October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Cover103013While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

September 25, 2013

This Week's Issue: Methadone, Molly and More


Grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored coffee drink — that little chill in the morning means fall is here, and the first Seven Days of the season hit the streets today. Here's what you'll find for news and politics this week:

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app.

This week's cover image by the late Stephen Huneck is courtesy of the Stephen Huneck Gallery. See this week's cover story about the future of Dog Mountain.

August 09, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newWho won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Switch-bumpers, snake-haters, calculators, power companies, TV stations, defense attorneys, creepy travel writers and more!

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Aug. 9: 


Brooks McArthur — The Burlington defense attorney played some serious offense this week on behalf of his client, Burlington Police Department Deputy Chief Andi Higbee. When the Vermont State Police refused to give the Burlington Free Press a copy of a cruiser cam video of Higbee's July DUI arrest, Brooks took it upon himself to hand over a copy. A savvy way to score points with Freeps transparency czar Mike Donoghue and shift the conversation to why Higbee was pulled over in the first place. 

WPTZ-TV — Last month WCAX-TV announced that, come September, it would expand its news coverage to weekend mornings. But the station's main competitor, WPTZ-TV, beat Channel 3 to the punch, launching its own weekend news programming last weekend without fanfare. What's more? Channel 5 will feature four full hours of news coverage — twice as much as Channel 3's promised.

The Timothy Szad Beat — The recently-released sex offender is back in town after a brief trip to California. And that's got the state's cops and courts reporters in a tizzy reporting his every last move. Public service journalism or tabloid reporting?

Patrick Leahy — Because the U.S. Senate President Pro Tem's got some very special friends in the entertainment, defense, telecom, legal, tech and beverage industries.

Peter Welch — A BuzzFeed puff piece on the Vermont Congressman's bipartisan street cred netted something even better for Welch: a glowing editorial from the Saint Albans Messenger's Emerson Lynn echoing Welch's — ahem, BuzzFeed's — talking points.

Losers and tie score after the jump...

Continue reading "The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers" »

August 06, 2013

Boa Constrictor Found at Burlington's Leddy Park

Wasn't expecting to see this in the pile of media releases in my inbox this morning: A report of a five-foot-long boa constrictor at Leddy Park. OMG.

Per the Burlington Police Department:

On August 5th, 2013 at approximately 1727 hours, Burlington Police responded to the area of Leddy Park for the report of an exotic snake. Upon arrival in the area, officers discovered a large domesticated snake, not native to Vermont, on the southeast corner of the parking area.

Animal experts from the Vermont Wildlife Refuge Center were contacted, and were able to respond to the scene and assist in the capture of the snake. The snake was reported to be in good health and will be cared for by the Refuge Center. 

Continue reading "Boa Constrictor Found at Burlington's Leddy Park" »

June 26, 2013

This Week's Issue: We Go Ape for Animals!

Cover062313Pick up this week's print issue of Seven Days and behold .... animals! Cute. Fuzzy. Ridiculously Adorable. Animals.

But there's still plenty of news — about animals, of course. And about other stuff.

May 28, 2013

Ag Agency Loosens Rules for On-Farm Slaughter — Slightly

618-slaughter-1On-farm slaughter has long been a contentious issue in Vermont.

Vocal consumers, farmers and their advocates have campaigned hard for the right to raise an animal, then slaughter it and buy and sell its meat all on the same farm. But Vermont's Agency of Agriculture has resisted that pressure, contending that farmers needed to provide a "custom" slaughter facility if they wanted to process animals close to home.

The fear, agency meat inspectors explained, was that the state could lose out on U.S. Department of Agriculture funding if Vermont ran afoul of federal food safety standards.

Well, meat inspectors have changed their tune — slightly. And thanks to new language in this year's ag housekeeping bill (H. 515), farmers will be allowed to butcher and sell a small number of animals directly from their farms. 

Is it a big win for farmers? Not exactly, says Rural Vermont executive director Andrea Stander. 

Continue reading "Ag Agency Loosens Rules for On-Farm Slaughter — Slightly" »

April 04, 2013

John McClaughry: Free-Market Conservative and…Champion of Frogs?

FrogsJohn McClaughry has never been shy about offering his opinions on just about anything done by the state or federal government. An ex-state senator, former speechwriter and senior policy advisor to President Reagan, and founder of the free-market think tank, Ethan Allen Institute, McClaughry made a career out of wading hip-deep into the weeds of public policy matters. 

Perhaps all that time spent in bureaucratic swamps explains McClaughry's personal fondness for frogs.

Evidently, though, McClaughry is shy about admitting to his secret, 50-year side gig as champion of croaking amphibians. Beginning in 1961, McClaughry, under the pseudonym Nestle J. Frobish, dubbed himself "Chair-Creature of the Worldwide Fair Play for Frogs Committee." In that role, he launched a campaign to skewer the political aspirations of a then-California state assemblyman, then later U.S. congressman, named Jerome R. Waldie.

Waldie's damnable offense? As a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Antioch, Calif., he introduced a one-line bill in the California State Assembly that read, "Frogs may be taken using slingshot." At the time, McClaughry was a college student at UC Berkeley — another difficult concept to wrap one's head around. McClaughry describes his alter-ego Frobish as "an outraged liberal who thought this invasion of the rights of the frog was wholly unconscionable and embarked on a crusade that eventually came to victory 44 years later."

Continue reading "John McClaughry: Free-Market Conservative and…Champion of Frogs?" »

February 01, 2013

Quiz: Know Your Vermont State Symbols


Should kale be Vermont's official state vegetable? State Senators Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington), Bill Doyle (R-Washington) and David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden) recently introduced a bill to make it so. The leafy green has gained prominence locally as a result of Bo-Muller Moore's "Eat More Kale" shirts and stickers — and subsequent trademark troubles. (No word on whether Chick-fil-A and Healthy Choice yogurt are planning to lobby against kale's selection.)

That's not the only point of emblem business this session. A group of House Reps are sponsoring a bill that would make Vermont's state reptile the painted turtle — which is odd, as the painted turtle already became the state reptile thanks to the efforts of Cornwall Elementary School students in 1994.

You might not know that Vermont has an official state soil (Tunbridge soil series), state fossil (white whale) and three state rocks (granite, marble and slate). After the jump, we've embedded a quiz to test your knowledge of 12 state symbols.

Continue reading "Quiz: Know Your Vermont State Symbols" »

January 29, 2013

Former WCAX News Anchor Charged With Animal Cruelty in Horse Case

George Wilson
A former WCAX news anchor found himself on the wrong side of a perp walk on Tuesday.

George Wilson (pictured) was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly keeping horses locked up inside dark stalls on his Shelburne property for years, and letting several other animals die. The 63-year-old was arraigned in Chittenden County Superior Court, under the gaze of local news reporters who used to be his colleagues.

Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan cited Wilson into court Friday, in part because he said Wilson owns guns and made threatening remarks to police investigating the cruelty. A judge ordered Wilson to forfeit the weapons.

According to a police affidavit, Wilson owns a high-powered rifle and made a "bee line" toward it after discovering law enforcement on his property January 15, but he was intercepted by an officer. Shelburne police officer Michael Thomas wrote that before Wilson headed for the gun, he said, "I want everyone to leave or someone is going to get hurt."

Clarendon-based Spring Hill Horse Rescue, which removed two mares and a stallion from Wilson's property on January 15, called it "the worst case of abuse and neglect we have ever seen." The group said it found the horses — named Willie, Dolly and Lolly — standing in several feet of manure, almost blind from lack of sunlight, covered in lice and barely able to stand on badly overgrown hooves. They also found bags of bones from dead horses. (Click here for photos and more background.)

At Wednesday's arraignment, Wilson joked with news crews lined up to film his perp walk. "It's funny being on this side, isn't it?" Wilson called out to a WCAX photographer before his arraignment. Afterward, he complimented Burlington Free Press reporter Mike Donoghue for being the first to confirm his identity as the owner of the horses.

But Wilson vigorously defended himself against the charges, pleading not guilty and saying he never threatened anyone. He denied he ever went for his gun. "I never did. It never came to my mind and I'm just unhappy that we had a large invasion force come onto our property without any notice. Who would like that? It's as if the aliens landed at your house, took your dog, cat, your wife and absconded with them."

Continue reading "Former WCAX News Anchor Charged With Animal Cruelty in Horse Case" »

January 24, 2013

Horse Rescue Group Says Shelburne Case "Worst" It Has Ever Seen

Horse 1An animal welfare group is calling a horse rescue in Shelburne "the worst case of abuse and neglect we have ever seen."

Clarendon-based Spring Hill Horse Rescue issued a press release Thursday saying it was called to a property in Chittenden County last Tuesday, January 15, to help three horses in dire straits. The group said it found two mares and a stallion that had been locked in small, dark stalls for several years.

"They were standing on several feet of built up manure — and were running out of room to stand upright," Spring Hill's statement said. "The bones, hair and hooves of their former herd mates surrounded them. These were the three survivors."

Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan said Thursday that his office has opened a criminal investigation into the alleged abuse, and confirmed it took place in Shelburne. Neither he nor Spring Hill Horse Rescue would name the property owner.

Donovan said his office was consulted about the rescue last week but that no search warrant was issued. He said the horses were removed from the property.

"It appears the owner consented to hand them over," Donovan said. "They were not seized."

Animal welfare groups say they've seen a disturbing number of horse abuse and neglect cases lately, and have complained that Vermont law enforcement do not treat animal cruelty cases seriously.

Continue reading "Horse Rescue Group Says Shelburne Case "Worst" It Has Ever Seen" »

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